Teacher teaching student in Latin class
Teaching Careers Updated January 17, 2018

Latin Teacher: Degree Requirements, Job and Salary Information

By Robbie Bruens October 4, 2012

Teacher teaching student in Latin classLatin teachers know there’s a lot to be learned from studying a dead language. After all, studies show Latin education expands students’ vocabulary and understanding of word formation, which helps them master spoken and written English.

Research also has found that learning Latin helps people see how languages work while boosting logical thinking and helping with other advanced cognitive processes. Furthermore, Latin students have a huge advantage in learning other inflected languages (such as Russian or German) and the Romance languages that spring from Latin (including Italian, French and Spanish).

Beginning a career as a Latin teacher means sharing these advantages with your students every year. You will also help preserve the language’s aesthetic beauty and proven pedagogic benefits for future generations.

This guide will provide an overview of what it takes to become a Latin teacher or professor, including the prerequisite education, likely income, and advantages and disadvantages of this career. Browse through the article or use the following links to skip forward to what you’re looking for:

At-a-glance
> Latin teacher job description
> Who makes a good Latin teacher?

Types of Latin teachers
> High school Latin teachers
> Community college Latin instructors
> Four-year college/university classics professors

Professional development
> What kinds of programs can help Latin teachers?

Related careers
> Other jobs

Best of the web
> Sites and Twitter handles to follow

At-a-glance: Latin teachers

High school Latin teacher Community college Latin teacher Four-year college/university classics professor
Education Bachelor’s degree; master’s preferred Master’s degree; doctorate preferred Doctorate
Estimated annual income $57,200 (BLS)
$40,157 to $65,143 (Glassdoor.com)
$52,710 (SalaryExpert.com)
$57,832 (Salary.com)
$70,670 (BLS)
$69,520 (CareerTrends)
$79,230 (BLS)
$84,056 (PayScale.com)
$69,520 (CareerTrends)

Latin teacher job description

As a Latin teacher, you will be an expert in the language of Ancient Rome. You will create lesson plans, tests and quizzes, and classroom presentations to teach your students how to speak, read, and write Latin.

You will develop interactive activities that enhance Latin fluency, assign homework and projects, and grade students’ work. You will also help students who are struggling with one-on-one tutoring and remedial assignments.

Latin teachers work in high schools, community colleges, and universities. Some work online in distance-learning programs. Many Latin teaching jobs at the high school level are found in private schools centered on more traditional curriculum. However, some public schools offer Latin language classes to students as an elective.

At the university level, Latin teachers are called classics professors. Their scholarship focuses on translating and analyzing ancient texts. In some cases, they may even work on archaeological digs. Classics professors usually teach part time and do scholarly work outside of their teaching duties.

Full-time Latin teachers typically enjoy paid holidays and vacations in addition to pensions and health insurance. Part-time and adjunct teachers, by contrast, often earn less pay and get few benefits.

Who makes a good Latin teacher?

Someone who is:

  • Comfortable with the intricacies of language and history
  • Sociable and easy to talk to
  • Patient and resourceful
  • Good at motivating and inspiring students
  • Organized and careful about time management
  • Devoted to learning
  • Thoughtful about interacting with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Able to express ideas precisely in writing and orally
  • Fluent in Latin
  • Qualified with a degree in classics or an education-related field

Interested in becoming a Latin teacher?

Check out this video for a peek inside a Latin classroom:

Different types of Latin teachers

As you think more about becoming a Latin teacher, you should consider what type of employer to work for. Most Latin teachers work for high schools, community colleges or four-year colleges/universities. Let’s take a look at these employment options in greater detail.

High school Latin teachers

High school Latin teachers educate students at public and private high schools. Students in high school range from 14 to 18 years old. High school teachers are also known as secondary school teachers.
Continue reading to learn more about high school Latin teachers

What high school Latin teachers do

High school Latin teachers introduce their students to the language of ancient Rome and its empire, widely used in the past for scholarship, administration, and religious ceremonies.

Latin teachers help their students to understand, speak, read, and write Latin. In an introductory course, teachers work with students to reach a rudimentary level of Latin comprehension. In more advanced courses, teachers help their students achieve a measure of fluency.

Most of a Latin teacher’s duties are similar to those of other foreign language teachers at the high school level. However, due to the language’s overwhelming ties to the past, Latin teachers usually cover more historical material than other foreign language teachers.

High school Latin teachers’ responsibilities include:

  • Leading students through lessons in Latin vocabulary and grammar
  • Working with students on in-class Latin reading, writing, and speaking practice
  • Assigning Latin reading and writing practice homework
  • Testing students on their ability to speak, write, and read Latin
  • Introducing students to classic texts from ancient Rome
  • Teaching students important aspects of Latin as a language in the history of ancient Rome and evolving European civilization.
  • Authoring a syllabus and creating lesson plans
  • Assigning homework and projects
  • Grading assignment, research projects, quizzes and exams, and giving final grades

High school Latin teachers hold classes daily for nine or 10 months of the year. They may also work with students one-on-one or in smaller groups outside of class. Latin teachers must also set aside time outside of the daily class schedule to prepare for each day’s lesson and to grade student work and tests.

At the high school level, Latin teachers frequently teach other subjects, including history, English or another foreign language. Many high school teachers also coach sports or advise clubs and other after-school activities.

Education and certification requirements

Latin teachers typically have at least an undergraduate degree in classics or Latin. Most importantly, they must be fluent in Latin. Usually, employers will look for a set amount of upper-level Latin courses that fulfill the minimum language educational requirements for the specific teaching assignment.

If you want to work for a public high school, most states require you to pass a general teaching certification exam to acquire your credential. You may also be required to pass an exam to prove your language fluency. Public school teachers must pass a background check, and some states also require fingerprint clearance cards before they will allow you to teach.

Many Latin teachers work in private schools, which have less restrictive hiring requirements. However, they will still look for teachers with an undergraduate degree in a relevant field and Latin fluency.

Income projections

The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the average annual salary for all high school teachers, and career-related websites offer salary averages and ranges for high school Latin teachers:

  • BLS: $57,200
  • Glassdoor.com: $40,157 to $65,143
  • SalaryExpert.com: $52,710
  • Salary.com: $57,832

Pros and cons of being a high school Latin teacher

It will help to think through the positive and negative aspects of becoming a high school Latin teacher.

Pros

  • Inspire the curiosity of students on a subject they may not otherwise learn
  • Full-time jobs usually come with good benefits
  • Potential to earn job security via tenure
  • You may need only a bachelor’s degree
  • Many professional organizations exist to support your work
  • Latin is usually an elective class, so students may be more enthusiastic since they have freely chosen to learn the subject

Cons

  • Frustrating when dealing with teenagers who can be moody or temperamental
  • Lower pay than other jobs that require a college education
  • Challenging to motivate students to care about a subject without direct, practical relevance
  • Latin is a niche subject without much growth opportunity

Community college Latin instructors

Latin instructors teach the language to students at local or regional two-year colleges.

Continue reading to learn more about community college Latin instructors

What community college Latin instructors do

At the community college level, Latin instructors teach a mix of introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses. Introductory courses focus mainly on the fundamentals of learning Latin as a foreign language, while advanced courses focus on the literature, history, philosophy, languages, and archaeology of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

Here are some of the main responsibilities of community college Latin instructors:

  • Lecturing students on topics such as ancient Roman poetry and philosophy
  • Giving lessons in Latin vocabulary and grammar
  • Guiding students through Latin reading, writing, and speaking practice
  • Teaching students to read classic texts from ancient Rome
  • Developing course materials such a syllabus, tests, homework, handouts, and essay prompts
  • Grading students’ essays, exams, quizzes, and homework
  • Testing students on their ability to speak, write, and read Latin
  • Holding regular office hours to answer questions and provide guidance
  • Advising students on scholarship and career development

Educational and certification requirements

At minimum, you will be required to demonstrate Latin fluency. In addition to Latin fluency, most community colleges look for Latin instructors who have a master’s degree in classics or a related field. Getting hired as full-time faculty at a community college can be very competitive, so you may need a PhD in classics.

Income projections

Here are a couple of estimates of what you might earn as a full-time Latin instructor at a community college:

  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: $70,670
  • CareerTrends: $69,520

Full-time faculty at community colleges generally command higher salaries than adjunct instructors. Adjunct instructors are paid by the course and don’t always receive benefits. For more about the difference between full-time faculty and adjunct instructors, check out our article on community college instructors.

Low demand for Latin education means you may have to work at both the community college and the high school level to earn a living as a Latin educator.

Pros and cons of being a community college Latin instructor

These are the key advantages and disadvantages of becoming a community college Latin instructor:

Pros

  • Rewarding to educate many first-generation college students
  • Focus on teaching exclusively
  • Flexible hours and opportunities to take time off

Cons

  • Little opportunity for scholarship or publication
  • Lower pay than professors at four-year colleges and universities
  • Many teaching positions at community colleges are adjunct, meaning lower pay, few benefits, and little job security

Classics professors at four-year colleges and universities

Classics professors teach courses, conduct scholarly work, and publish academic papers and books.

Continue reading to learn more about university-level classics professors

What classics professors do

Classics professors teach college-level courses at universities and other four-year institutions of higher education. They are experts on the literature, history, philosophy, languages, and archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome. They teach Latin and Greek at all levels, including advanced courses that focus on Ancient Greek or Roman literature, philosophy, and history.

Classics professors also do scholarly work in a specialized area of classical studies such as archaeology, epigraphy, ancient medicine, religion, topography, paleography or infrastructure. Successful professors publish their findings in academic papers and books.

A deep scholarly interest in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds is a prerequisite for becoming a successful classics professor. But classics professors should also be prepared to serve as a pillar in the academic community beyond their scholarship and teaching. Great professors are committed to serving the larger mission of their department and academic program.

Here’s a closer look at their three main responsibilities: scholarship, teaching, and faculty service and management.

Scholarship

A classics professor’s scholarly duties usually include:

  • Reading extensively — including original ancient and Greek and Roman texts as well as secondary literature in classical studies
  • Analyzing texts and archaeological evidence and developing theories based on it
  • Doing field work at ancient Greek or Roman historical/archaeological sites
  • Establishing and leading a team of research/teaching assistants
  • Writing articles, books or other original materials based on scholarly findings
  • Supervising graduate students’ research
  • Contributing to academic knowledge of classical studies and enhancing the university’s reputation through publications
  • Applying for grants to gain external funding from foundations, governments, and businesses

Teaching

Classics professors’ teaching duties frequently include:

  • Teaching introductory and intermediate Latin or ancient Greek language courses
  • Teaching advanced Latin and ancient Greek literature courses
  • Setting overall instructional objectives for each course
  • Creating and updating the curriculum and each course’s syllabus, content, and instructional methods
  • Delivering lectures on classics to undergraduate students
  • Maintaining regular office hours to answer questions and provide guidance
  • Advising students on appropriate coursework
  • Moderating classroom discussions
  • Acquiring materials and supplies such as textbooks
  • Assembling course materials such as homework assignments and handouts
  • Grading students’ exams, quizzes, homework, and papers

Classics professors may lead teams of teaching assistants who help with many key teaching tasks. It’s important to use discretion in managing teaching assistants as they carry out their duties.

Faculty service and management

Helping out the larger academic community may include:

  • Participating in faculty evaluations, including providing input on the admission of new classics professors
  • Mentoring newly hired faculty members
  • Serving on advisory boards and hiring committees
  • Participating in the Faculty Senate
  • Taking part in commencement or other ceremonies
  • Advising your department on the designation of learning outcomes, administrative measurements, and student evaluation standards
  • Collaborating with faculty colleagues and administrators in developing program standards, policies, and textbook selection

Check out this video of a Latin classroom:

Educational and certification requirements

Gaining a professorship at a university or four-year college can be an enormous undertaking, as classics professors must demonstrate a broad competence in Greek and Latin language, literature, and culture. This means completing a PhD demonstrating a commitment to scholarship and inquiry in classical studies. Getting a full-time faculty position at a college or university also requires that you publish original scholarship and earn the respect and admiration of your colleagues.

Salary projections

Classics professors usually earn significantly more than their counterparts at high schools and community colleges. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a classics professor is $79,230. Here are two more annual salary estimates for classics professors:

  • PayScale.com: $84,056
  • CareerTrends: $69,520

Pros and cons of being a classics professor

Consider both the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a classics professor at a four-year college or university.

Pros

  • Full benefits for health insurance and retirement security
  • Higher pay than most other teaching jobs
  • Tenure-track position, with an opportunity for long-term job security
  • Ample opportunities for scholarly work
  • Publish your findings in prestigious journals and books
  • Get to teach students with a passion for learning and achievement
  • May be able to take on a leadership role at a college or university

Cons

  • Job market for classics professors is very tight
  • Probably responsible for joining a committee and attending many extra meetings and professional events
  • Can be frustrating to work within bureaucratic institutions like universities
  • Academia can be highly competitive and exhausting, with a “publish-or-perish” norm
  • Many years of advanced education are required

Professional development for Latin teachers

If you are serious about becoming a Latin teacher, start thinking about how to gain a good knowledge of Latin and (if you want to teach classics) ancient Greek. Start learning the languages as soon as possible. Take as many language courses as your schedule allows.

You must commit your mind, body, and soul to learning Latin. Many jobs will require you to reach an advanced level of both Greek and Latin. You can also prepare by learning as much as you can about ancient history and classical archaeology.

Depending on your career goals, you should develop a background focused in either teaching or scholarly study. If your main passion is teaching, look for programs that give you the opportunity to spend a certain number of hours in a classroom student-teaching under the supervision of a certified teacher. You’ll also want to take an exam for your teaching certificate. Each state has its own requirements for teaching certification, and it is essential that you are familiar with the rules in the state where you want to work.

If your main passion is scholarly work in classical studies, you will want to gain a classics fellowship at the undergraduate or graduate level. Becoming involved in high-profile classics scholarship will be enormously helpful to your future career prospects, particularly if you find a mentor or develop close colleague relationships along the way.

Consider getting involved in a professional organization devoted to classics scholarship and Latin education:

These groups will keep you engaged in the larger community of Latin teachers and classics scholars.

Benefits of continuing education

To become a Latin teacher at any level, you should seriously consider pursuing a master’s degree or a doctorate. While you may be able to find a job teaching high school Latin without an advanced degree, most jobs in Latin education and classics scholarship require a higher degree.

What kinds of programs can help Latin teachers?

Concordia University-Portland offers online degree programs that can help prepare you for job opportunities as a Latin teacher:

MEd in Curriculum and Instruction: Social Studies
MEd in Curriculum and Instruction: Reading Interventionist
MEd in Curriculum and Instruction: Methods and Curriculum

The Curriculum and Instruction program at Concordia University-Portland comprises 16 concentrations. Choose a concentration such as Reading to learn transformative education practices that will enable you to teach Latin effectively to students at nearly any level.

Jobs for Latin teachers beyond teaching

With additional education or certification, Latin teachers may become librarians, instructional coordinators, assistant principals, principals or an educational administrator at a college or university.

Librarian: A master’s degree in library science (MLS) is generally required for employment. Some states also require librarians to pass a standardized test.

Instructional coordinator: Instructional coordinators generally need to complete a master’s degree related to a subject like curriculum and instruction, and they may be required to have a teaching or education administrator license.

Academic advisor: With a master’s degree in an education-related field, you can transition into being an academic advisor at either the K-12 or college/university level.

Education consultant: Latin teachers can become education consultants if they want to tackle challenges in a variety of schools and education systems. You’ll probably need an advanced degree in an education-related subject.

Education policy analyst: With an advanced degree in an education-related subject, Latin teachers can become policy analysts and examine big-picture issues affecting education nationwide.

School principal: Latin teachers wishing to become a school principal should seriously consider earning a master’s degree in an education-related field. Most states also require public school principals to be licensed as school administrators.

Educational administrator: Depending upon the position, either a bachelor’s or master’s degree may be required. For a higher-level position such as dean or president, a master’s degree or doctorate in educational leadership may be required.

Best of the web: our favorite Latin teacher blogs, websites and Twitter handles

The web makes it easy for us to stay connected to prominent Latin scholars and educators. Here is a list of our favorite websites and Twitter handles, in no particular order.

Favorite Latin websites and blogs

Favorite Latin Twitter handles

You may also like to read

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